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The Benefits of Recreation: Autism Therapy & Physical Activity

written by: Jennifer Fidalgo • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/29/2010

There are many benefits of recreation and autism. It is important for parents of autistic children to determine just which activities their autistic children will like and then get support when needed.

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    Benefits

    The benefits of recreation and autism include an ability for autistic children to interact, practice motor skills and have a better quality of life. In addition, recreation provides children with autism the opportunity to make choices and improves their self esteem. These children can also meet new contacts from participating in recreational activities. Another benefit of recreation is that it promotes physical and mental health. Kids with autism can also learn to be more independent and can experience more opportunities as a result. Motivation is also increased through activities. Those with autism can also learn how to follow directions by participating in recreational activities.

    Sometimes parents of autistic children may feel that getting their autistic child to participate in recreational activities is too much work. they may feel that it is to hard for their child to participate in those types of activities or that their child with autism does not want to participate in physical games. However, the benefits of getting their children to participate in recreational activity far outweighs the challenges.

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    Considerations

    There are things for parents to consider when planning for their autistic child to participate in recreational activities. Parents will need to determine what type of physical activity their child will enjoy. To do this, parents will need to get their autistic child to participate in a variety of activities. This will expose the child to more opportunities and allows them to develop interests in new activities. Sometimes a recreational activity will not work. There may not be enough support for the autistic child or they may become frustrated from certain types of physical play. There may be uncomfortable situations that parents have no control over. For this reason, it is good to have a back-up plan. It is also good for parents of autistic children to get support from other parents who are going through similar situations.

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    Types of Activities

    There are various types of recreation that children with autism can participate in. These include individual sporting events, hobbies and group activities.

    • According to AutismSpeaks.com, "Individual sporting activities such as Track, Skiing, Hiking, Golf, Cycling, or Cross-Country allow individuals with autism to participate in recreation without social interactions that might cause stress." These types of activities can be good for autistic children to begin participating in physical activities without feeling frustrated.
    • Autistic children can also participate in hobbies such as art, photography, coin collecting or board games. these types of activities can provide enjoyment for those that have autism.
    • Group activities include team sports like soccer or baseball. Many communities may have special teams for children with autism to play. In addition, the YMCA has programs for children with autism.

    The benefits of recreation and autism are numerous. It is important for children with autism to have ways to socialize and develop interests.

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    Resources

    http://www.palaestra.com/autism.html : Use of Physical Activity to Improve the Behavior of Children With Autism - A Two For One Deal

    http://www.recreationtherapy.com/articles/autismandquatictherapy.htm : Autism and the Role of Aquatic Therapy In Recrational Therapy Treatment

    http://www.autismspeaks.org/community/family_services/recreation.php : Have Some Fun! Recreation, Clubs, Community Activities and More

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